secret to growing good sized beets?

Bear999November 28, 2013

I love to grow beets, but can never seem to get a decent sized crop. My crop from 2011 turned out pretty good. But the years before and the years after have yielded really small beets. I've tried spring sowings and fall sowings. Even tried over-wintering last year. I get a lot of good sized leaves, but the beet itself is too small...about the size of a Ping-Pong ball or smaller. I grow the beets in a raised bed and every time I pull them I notice nice long roots. What am I missing? Any suggestions on what to do differently come next spring?

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Bit of a mystery here also. Best results over the years in the loosest, organically amended soil, using the elongated beet varieties. Poorest results when replanting seed later in spring because of lousy weather after initial planting, and when trying the round beet varieties.

From 2011:

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 11:18PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Some details here:

Here is a link that might be useful: to grow beets

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:35PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

And this is from two Utah State vegetable specialists:

Here is a link that might be useful: beets

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 2:37PM
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Thanks for the input Larry. I tried both the long and round varieties this year and I got similar results. Also, my soil this year was brand new and everything else grew really well...only the beets were a failure (and the broccoli too, but that's another story).

Jean, thanks for the links. Of course, like everything else I read, they generated more confusion as one link said go easy on the nitrogen while the link suggested applying a high nitrogen (21-0-0) fertilizer! :)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 2:21AM
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Our beets this year were perhaps tennis ball+ size, the golden beets were smaller. Of course one would hope for decent beets when the rest of the garden did well. Did other root crops do well this year for you?.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 11:06PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Yes, I saw the conflicting opinions.

But I was hoping that you might find a few insights as to your practices and theirs. That perhaps you might find an idea or two to try next time.

If it were my choice, I'd go with the info from the university vegetable specialists.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 2:00AM
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Larry, beets are the only root crops I did this year. I also grew some onions and garlic, but technically I don't think they qualify as root crops. My onions have never done well so I always go into the season with low expectations. The garlic also struggled this year, but that was my fault due to poor planning...I planted cabbage too close to the garlic and the cabbage got really big and completely blocked the sunlight from reaching the garlic. :( All my other crops did fantastic this year.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 1:02AM
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friend of ours in Shoreline area north of Seattle grew some Huge beets--I'll have to ask what his methods were.
they were very tender when cooked.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 3:03AM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

I tried beets last year in a raised bed but didn't have much success. Something ate most of the plants. I gave up then later saw some among the weeds but they were small. The links here will help - looks like they want cool weather, space several inches apart.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 9:24AM
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I don't have any problem growing beets, they grow big and sweet. I like growing Bull's Blood because they have such a great color (both greens and roots).
My soil is acidic and I add eggshells in soil where I grow beets, I am using only compost and UCG in winter.
Also I sometimes water seedlings with eggshells water (crushed shells covered with boiling water) or rinse water from buttermilk jars.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 10:39AM
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I had some issue with beets last year, but that was primarily due to a rouge mole that decided to tunnel under my garden bed, shoving my beets out of the soil. I managed to salvage and replant a few but most started to wilt and had to be pulled pre-mature. Learned: beets don't take kindly to disturbed roots.

Its hard to really diagnose your problem without knowing more about your gardening, but here area few ideas:
1) Is your soil too acidic? Beets can be stunted in very acidic soils
2) When did you plant, they're cool season, but if the soil is too cold they might not produce ample roots.
3) Did/when did you thin? Beets need to be thinned so that they have room to expand, can't grow any larger than the available space! Also more resource competition.
4) Root and sugar production is highly dependent on Phosphorus, make sure your beets are getting enough. They also need sun to do this, are they in a shaded spot?
5) What was near them? Pole beens can stunt beets.
6) Was the soil compacted? Many root veggies seem to do better in looser soil.

In my experience, if the biggest thing seems to be spacing. Beets seem not to enlarge much after same time planted beets have matured. If they were squashed, even after removing the bigger ones, the small ones don't seem to expand. Make sure to plant carefully and thin early. They make great baby greens anyway.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:34PM
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